When John Lennon sang, “Imagine there’s no heaven . . . And no religion too,” I did not like it, having just been born again. I had found God, and the English translation, New International Bible was my ticket to keep what I had found. I loved the Bible, and read each page with fervor. They told me every single word was literally true, and I believed it.
Never mind that many of those words were written by ancient Hebrew men for Hebrew men, and other of those words by citizens of ancient Rome; that they were written in equally archaic and foreign languages including Hebrew and Aramaic, and then translated into Greek and Latin; and, that they were written in the context of limited understanding and ancient customs for an audience of people with equally limited understanding and ancient customs; and, that they were later edited by the Catholic Church during many great councils into what we know today; I believed that those words were actually God speaking to me in 1976, and many times since. (Yes, I am that old).
I wanted to know who and what God is, and believed those words were the path of discovery. As intellectual as I can be, I chased that knowledge for many years. Yet for all that I prayed and read and asked for God’s will in all things, the spiritual life that had once begun so earnestly lay in ruin like a dry rotted old Montana homestead cabin. Only the vestiges of livelihood remained. At the end of the day, I was still drunk and demoralized. I was spiritually dead, and cursed God for all the inherent contradictions in “God’s Word.” How could I, a God-fearing, born-again, right-wing, Republican Christian be what I was beginning to realize was my true self – a transsexual? That was against the Bible.
But, what if the Bible was not a literal document? What if it is a compendium of inspired writings about the nature of God, and God’s interaction with humanity and our world? What if my experience of God was eqaully valied and important, as John Wesley suggested? What if the bible is not a religious, quasi-legal code book securing the salvation of my soul, as much as it is inspiration feeding the life of my soul right here and right now? When I turned to God with these questions in the pit of my soul, God answered. God said, “Bobbie, you are a beautiful daughter of God.”
When I was scared and confused about the truths I came to know about myself and who I am, God asked me dance, and smiled. God reminded me of a simple, yet fundamental truth about God. God is. That is all. It does not matter whether I know or understand who or what God is – just that I know that God is. Once I cast all else aside, and became open to that single, vital truth I was free to experience God – I mean right here, right now. God continued to dance with me and smile through every step of my gender transition.
It does not matter that others would say it ain’t so –that I have misinterpreted the will of God. God speaks to me in my soul, not theirs. Because I have experienced God there, I know that God is, and that God loves me for all that I am, and exactly what I am. Now, that is redemption! Maybe that Lennon guy was on to something after all.
- Could You Imagine… (butchdean.wordpress.com)
- President Obama Calls For Humility At The National Prayer Breakfast (theobamacrat.com)